DAKOTA DUNES | Sara Gotch may not be a household name like Rachael Ray or Ina Garten. Yet.

But the 29-year-old entrepreneur has been test-marketing her healthier alternative to mayonnaise for almost a year.

"I've always liked condiments but didn't like how many calories condiments traditionally contained," she explained at a Dakota Dunes kitchen. 

Instead, Gotch came up with a powder formula that can be added to nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Adding a few teaspoons of Gnarly Pepper Like Mayo, you can have the taste of a rich, creamy mayonnaise for less than one-tenth of the calories.

Similarly, she also custom blends an onion dip and veggie dip powder, all under her Gnarly Pepper label.

What makes this amazing is the fact that Gotch isn't a chemist or a"foodie." She's a former full-time graphic designer who simply had a dream of starting her own business. 

"They say a true entrepreneur is someone willing to give up a steady 40-hour-a-week job for the opportunity to work 80 hours a week," she admitted with a smile. "Guess that's what makes me a true entrepreneur."

Describing herself as a go-getter, Gotch set out to create her healthy condiment blends for those who are weight-conscious, vegan or allergic to gluten.

While there are an increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options,  there was still a considerable gap in nondairy condiments.

"Everyone has weaknesses and, while, portion control is key, a person should feel guilt-free with the dip they devour with their favorite chip or veggie," Gotch said.

"The greatest difference with Gnarly Pepper is that we're creating a new outlook for nonfat Greek yogurt," she said. "We're giving a better take on a healthy base. More than that, we're making that base taste a whole lot better."

Six-ounce pouches of her Gnarly Pepper powders are available for purchase at www.gnarlypepper.com  as well as retail stores like Sioux City Gifts, South Sioux City's Hy-Vee and Cork It, among other sites. 

Gotch's business acumen has already met with the approval of judges associated with an entrepreneur competition held at Briar Cliff University on Feb. 24. Gnarly Pepper was awarded $1,950 in the contest geared toward young business owners.

"I think millennials seen the world in a way that make us more likely to pursue entrepreneurship," Gotch said. "We want to live our lives and love what we do for a living. Starting your own business means being in control of your destiny."

While Gotch knows she many not become the next big food star, she's OK with that.

However, she'd love to be featured on a show like ABC's "Shark Tank" -- which is the TV equivalent of a business "elevator pitch."

"Testing a business like Gnarly Pepper on a show like 'Shark Tank' would be awesome," Gotch said. "Even if that doesn't happen, I'm still living my dream job."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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